I am an experimental composer and I have often used samples and effects in my work. Some I have purchased but I am very interested in using my own because I am often looking for a specific sound which I can't find. I want a good mic for short distance recording such as foley. I want to record crunches, impacts, scraping sounds, water sounds, ect. I want very good definition in the sound. I am looking for recommendations. Any help would be appreciated.

5 Answers 5


The limit will be your budget, and bear in mind the best mic for interior recording will not necessarily be the best for exterior.... I personally would rather have a secondhand good mic than an avergae new mic... and you may well get a deal with a Rycote etc secondhand

A few suggestions that I've used....

Neumann KMR81 - mono short shotgun - very natural sounding, not hyped but can be underwhelming

Sennheiser MKH416 - mono short shotgun - brighter - I personally don't like the 416 but many people swear by them

Sanken CSS5 - stereo shotgun - reliably good, altho can be a little noisy in very quiet situations

I also use a pair of Oktava MC012s and DPA 4060s.... but depends on the specific sound & situations - a high quality larger diaphragm mic is always going to sound better than a lavalier....

  • Always good to be hearing the words of a god
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 5:45

As Tim mentioned, budget is the main player here. Your mic choice will really depend on where you will be using it most (i.e. interior/exterior) and how much you are willing to spend. I'm also a fan of the 416, but for a very affordable condenser mic that does a great job on low-level recordings (often the case when capturing Foley), the Rode NT1-A is worth looking at.


Personally, I'm a huge fan of the Sennheiser MKH416. Mostly because you can always take top end off of a recording, but you can't really get it back all that easily. It's really amazing for the price. Neumann's are typically out of my price range.

The Sennheiser MKH60 and 70 are pretty standard workhorses.

I've acheived good stereo results with a matched pair of Rode NT5's.

I've made some stereo recordings of impulse responses with a (borrowed) Neumann Binaural Head as well which turned out really amazing.

  • I disagree re 416 EQ - unless all production sound was recorded with a 416 they do not match well. We stopped using 416 & problem solved.
    – user49
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 19:07
  • (actually sorry - I am talking about its use for film post, not general FX recording)
    – user49
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 19:09
  • @tim I agree with that. Yeah, if it were trying to match the production audio while doing ADR or Foley then I likely wouldn't be using it. My comment was more directed towards VO, Field and FX recording. I have noticed in the 416's increase in popularity that it has become more widely used for production recording due to it's price, quality and portability/size. Eventually, the matching issue your referring to will eventually be phased out (or just made more complicated since I doubt the MKH60 or 70 will get completely phased out anytime soon, more like sort of displaced). Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 19:30

I too like the MKHs a lot, because they're so deadly silent. I sometimes double-mic percussive sounds with both a small condenser and a dynamic, like a MD421.

However, they're so low-end-happy that I've had a really hard time doing close-up recordings of subtle stuff like pages flipping...sounds like a bull in a china shop. I think, as Tim said, large condenser mics are too often overlooked for such things - way quiet and can be very detailed. The new Senny MK4 may hold a lot of promise for not a ton of dough! LDC's can be found pretty inexpensively, with good specs!

I also use the DPA 4060's and Oktava MK012's, but for very specific things. They're both a lot noisier than the mics I mentioned above. My Oktavas are used for stunt mics and loud sources, and the DPA's are for stealth ambiences and other special uses.


I'm actually in a similar situation being that the mic you describe is what I'm now looking for and have been researching for the last several months. I'm in the process of building a kit, and I feel like I've gotten two of the three pieces. I bought an AT4050 for my large diaphragm condensor for reasons mentioned, a stereo pair of the DPA 4060s for stereo ambiance in the city, and am split between the Schoeps CMC641 / Neumann KMR81i for my more directional mic to sort of round out the kit (for now) for more focused effects.

The AT4050 has been brilliant in the short time that I've had it, so that may be one to look at – it's an LDC with switchable patterns, and affordable at about 500 bucks – but it only whetted my appetite for something a bit more directional, so maybe rent the Schoeps as well. It sounds very detailed and realistic.

I really can't claim to give a definitive answer (I'm still very new to this), just share a little insight into my thought process and the research I've been doing.

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